From the Frontlines of the Humboldt Fires


Lightning forks over the hills of Humboldt in this photo taken last Thursday by Sabrina Miclette

As of this morning, the Humboldt Lightning fires had chewed their way across 3000 acres and Cal Fire says that there is only 20% containment.  One firefighter was injured, one home and one outbuilding were destroyed. As of this morning, there were 8 active fires.

The evacuation advisory for the town of Blocksburg and its approximately 240 residents was lifted yesterday evening. Over 1000 personnel are fighting the fires using 85 engines, 28 water tenders, 7 helicopters and 12 dozers.

As the fires spread this last week, some residents used spare moments to load photos and videos on Facebook–capturing images that help them and us make sense of what happened.

Below, we’ll share with you these images of the last six days as seen by the residents and the agencies trying to protect them.


This tree near Hwy 36 survived a lightning strike but some trees did not. [Photo by Alicia Pecora]


The lightning storm was fierce, devastating and…beautiful [Photo by Marnie Nunnemaker]


The resulting fires were huge. [Aerial photo provided by Cal Fire]

BL George Flames

Trees became torches [Photo by George Lea]

BL Kelly Cutting line

Locals did their best to protect their property. Fire lines were quickly dozed into place. [Photo by Kelly Patton]

BL Kelly reinforcements

But when firefighters showed up, residents were elated. “Just got professional reinforcements. Go Calfire!,” posted land owner Kelly Patton with this photo.

BL Kelly flames

Still, fires kept burning. [Photo by Kelly Patton]

BL Wind Resid

Residents watched helplessly as fires burned near their homes and those of their neighbors. [Photo by Kristin Windbigler]

BL Kelly watertrk

Local fire departments and ones from far away arrived to fight the fires. [Photo by Kelly Patton]

BL Wind heli pond

Huge helicopters dipped in to help. [Photo by Kristin Windbigler]

BL Wind Resi 2

For awhile, things looked bleak. The small town of Blocksburg was told residents might have to evacuate. [Photo by Kristin Windbigler]

BL Smoke and fire lombardi

Fires raged beneath a serene sky [Photo by Christina Lombardi–Click here to see more of her work.]

BL Kelly heli

But helicopters, planes and people can be mighty powerful opponents to fire. [Photo by Kelly Patton]

BLa helicopt

The skill of the pilots threading narrow canyons to drop water precisely where needed impressed the watchers [Photo by LaDonna Auxier]

BLaAlderpoint cooks

Women gathered in Alderpoint to make box lunches for the firefighters. [Photo by LaDonna Auxier]

Bl Britany Supplies

Residents from nearby communities donated supplies. [ Photo provided by Britany Willison one of the many people helping with the effort]

BLaDobbyn's creek

Though preliminary evacuations have been lifted in Blocksburg, some fires still smolder and others burn fiercely. [Photo by LaDonna Auxier]

BL Kelly Firefigher walking away

Meanwhile, firefighters continue to protect the residents of Humboldt County and we are very grateful. Thank you.  [Photo by Kelly Patton]

BL George Thank you

Thank you [Photo by George Lea]



  • Thank you Firefighters You Rock!!be safe

  • Great photos-thanks for sharing them.
    I am curious to see more coverage of the Denny and Burnt Ranch fires. Any news? No one seems to be giving much detail on northeast Humboldt/north Trinity Counties.

    • “A new infrared survey was done last night. The data show that several fires have merged. The Onion and Happy fires have merged and are now called the Happy Fire. The Groves and Elk fires have merged and are now called the Groves Fire.

      Today, in addition to scouting areas to build containment lines for the Groves Fire, firefighters will be in the area of Trinity Village planning for defense of structures, if needed. The operations in the Denny, Dailey and Hoboken areas continue.

      There will be a community meeting Wednesday, August 5, at 6:00 PM, at the Trinity Village Fire Hall.”

  • Gorgeous set of photos – and captions – that tell a frightening, heartening, terrible and beautiful story. Thanks to all who submitted them. And thanks to Kym, who I hope is eating her vitamins! Blogging all day, day after day, isn’t as hard as fighting fires, no, but it’s not easy, and I do appreciate your work, as well as everybody’s efforts who are fighting the fires and supporting the firefighting efforts and their neighbors. We’ve used several of your links at Willits Weekly’s Facebook page over the last few days, in our posts about the Humboldt fires. For those here who aren’t paying as much attention to the Rocky fire in Lake County (now in Yolo and Colusa counties too), it started raining in Clearlake an hour ago, and reports are of at least some rain all around the area with no reports – so far – of lightning. So maybe the rain will move north. Thanks again.

  • As a long ago US Forest Service Fire Fighter at Mad River Ranger Station, a fireman with both the Rio Dell & Scotia Volunteer Fire Departments, I know first hand on the dangers that all of these fire fighters face every day while fighting these Forest Fires. My most Heart felt thanks goes out to each and everyone of them. Those that comes from places that we may have never heard of and those who are neighbors, friends and maybe even Relatives. May they all be protected by the Man Above and be able to make it home to their Loved Ones. And my condolences to the family of the one Fire Fighter who was killed doing his job in protecting the rest of us. May He Rest In Peace knowing that he will always be remembered for what he was trying to do and that was to protect Lives and Property.

  • GEOMAC has a topographic base map that gives really precise locations.

  • Pingback: [UPDATE 7:45 p.m. Air Quality Advisory Issued] Day 6: Lightning Fires | Redheaded Blackbelt

  • Thanks everyone for the great photos.

  • Poignent photo essay. Thanks, Kym. Thanks, photographers. And thanks, Firefighters and their helpers.

  • thank you CDF for rubberstamping all the timber harvest plans over the years, which is equivalent to arson. they ‘managed’ the forest into kindling. what other outcome could be expected besides catastrophic wildfire? they should be sued for damages in the trillions. no money could pay it back. since the land was formerly covered in old growth, obviously, wildfire was not a problem before we started ‘managing’ things. and people think logging is better today- what a sick joke. our sponge is gone- our land no longer stores and retranspires water the way it did before the logging and ranching community created the SAHARA EFFECT in the American West. happens every time…/dp/0881506761 this book is a must read for everyone to understand how “FORESTS PRECEDE CIVILIZATIONS, DESERTS FOLLOW” full of great pictures too.

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